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Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council


19th session of the Human Rights Council, Room XX © UN Photo/JeanMarc Ferre
19th session of the Human Rights Council, Room XX, Palais des Nations, Geneva
© UN Photo/JeanMarc Ferre

The special procedures of the Human Rights Council are independent human rights experts with mandates to report and advise on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective. The system of Special Procedures is a central element of the United Nations human rights machinery and covers all human rights: civil, cultural, economic, political, and social. As of 27 March 2015 there are 41 thematic and 14 country mandates.

With the support of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), special procedures undertake country visits; act on individual cases and concerns of a broader, structural nature by sending communications to States and others in which they bring alleged violations or abuses to their attention; conduct thematic studies and convene expert consultations, contribute to the development of international human rights standards, engage in advocacy, raise public awareness, and provide advice for technical cooperation. Special procedures report annually to the Human Rights Council; the majority of the mandates also reports to the General Assembly. Their tasks are defined in the resolutions creating or extending their mandates.
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What special procedures have done in 2014 at a glance

This report, covering the period from 1 January to 31 December 2014, provides information on the system of special procedures as a whole and its achievements, including facts and figures. It gives a comprehensive picture of what special procedures have done in 2014 individually and as a system, inter alia in terms of country visits, communications, thematic reports, follow-up activities, joint actions, development of international standards and advocacy. The report also reflects the work of the Coordination Committee. It also covers the main points raised at the twenty-first annual meeting of special procedures of the Human Rights Council, held in Geneva from 29 September to 3 October 2014.


Visual Directory

Directory of Special Procedures Mandate Holders

June 2015
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Annual Fact and Figures 2013

Annual Fact and Figures 2013

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Civil Society Handbook

Civil Society Handbook

Click here Chapter VI - Special Procedures and the Full handbook here (PDF, 1,28MB)

UPR recommendations relating to the Special Procedures (2008-2013)

UPR recommendations relating to the Special Procedures (2008-2013)

UPR recommendations  (PDF, 1,73MB)


Visit of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons -- Italy, September 2013

Visit of the Special Rapporteur on truth -- Uruguay, October 2013

Visit of the Special Rapporteur on the right to water and sanitation -- Brazil, December 2013

Visit of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Central African Republic -- Central African Republic, February 2015

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Feature stories

Feature stories about the Special Procedures of the
Human Rights Council.
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Contact us

Postal address:
Special Procedures Division
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10

Fax : +41 22 917 90 08

Sexual exploitation of children
UN expert Maud de Boer-Buquicchio visits Japan to assess the situation of sale and sexual exploitation of children, including the production and sale of child abuse material (2-8 September).

Freedom of religion in Bangladesh
UN Special Rapporteur Heiner Bielefeldt will visit Bangladesh to assess the efforts to eliminate root causes of violence, intimidations and vigilantism in the name of religion (31 Aug-9 Sep).

Guatemala / Genocide trial
UN rights experts call on the Guatemalan judicial authorities to “prevent any further attempt at interference, obstruction of justice or manipulation of the law,” as Genocide trial resumes.

Journalists targeted in South Sudan
“The frequency of attacks and violence committed against journalists and media workers in South Sudan is increasing, and has reached a critical level” – UN rights experts warn.

Human rights in Belarus
UN expert on Belarus Miklós Haraszti calls for “a thorough reform of the judiciary and the easing of restrictions on civic and political rights for the upcoming presidential polls to be free and fair.”

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For further information on how to submit communications on alleged human rights violations, please read the webpage on Communications and send your submission to: urgent-action@ohchr.org.